It has been a long 19 months. Merciless austerity and widening inequality has been the name of the game. Cameron's supposedly 'compassionate conservatism' has resulted in the biggest squeeze on living standards since the 1920s, leaving communities polarised, divided and belligerent.
We have witnessed riots and protests, in-house quarrelling (within both Westminster and the UK) and widespread governmental corruption (Hackgate). To state that the coalition's rule has been blighted by downbeat and damaging events would be to state the very least; it has been a monumental catastrophe. Yet the Telegraph's latest poll appears to suggest that the public are simply failing to absorb the sordid realities staring them in the face.
Now admittedly, ICM's poll does contradict many of the polls over the last year showing Labour to have a slight lead - usually two or three points - over the Conservatives, but it is worthy of note nonetheless. This latest survey had the Tories on 38% and Labour two behind on 36%. Strangely, this turnaround follows George Osborne's frightening autumn statement that warned of additional years of austerity. So, do the general public not grasp what spending cuts actually mean or do they willfully accept an inevitable decline in their quality of life? Either way, incompetence and ignorance is seemingly rife.
It is hard to measure why exactly Cameron and Osborne remain so liked and trusted; and even harder to swallow just how unpopular Miliband and Balls appear to be. When only the extremely wealthy have been proven to benefit from Tory policy how come they enjoy such prevalent backing? What can solely be concluded from this is that Labour's message is failing to break through and resonate with the electorate. Admittedly, this is largely the by-product of having such a right-leaning mainstream media, but Labour MPs must also take their fair share of the blame. Despite entering political debates armed with an array of overwhelming statistics and facts, Labour endorsers are not defeating Tory advocates decisively enough.
In order to slay the Conservative's effective propaganda beast we on the left must not be afraid to speak out and challenge conventional wisdom and the status quo. To assist you, here are three valuable counter-narratives that may come in useful:
PAYING OFF THE DEFICIT:
As last Wednesday's mass public sector walkout suggested, there is a passionate feeling amongst hard-working members of society that they should not be made to pay for the mistakes of a small elite of rich bankers. Paying off the deficit ought not to be the responsibility of low-to-middle income earners. There are numerous other ways the government could cut the deficit: a tough crack down on tax evasion (which costs the Treasury £70bn annually), greater tax on banks and promoting economic growth via a stimulus (which would reduce unemployment, increase tax revenues, cut welfare spending and boost consumer expenditure).
The Conservatives incessantly speak of how they inherited an unmanageable situation which in itself is a myth. Brown's Labour government did not cause the current financial mess; the banks and private sector did. Up until 2008, the Tories matched Labour spending pound for pound and have only changed narrative for propaganda purposes. Before the banking crash, Britain had a manageable deficit on a similar level to most major world economies.
DIVIDING THE NATION:
The Tories, by continually trampling over the public sector, have managed to successfully divide Britain in order to rally support and justify their actions. They have alienated the public sector - transforming nurses, teachers and trade unionists into antagonists - and deflected attention away from factual argument and discussion. This is because they are all too aware that were the debate to evolve around facts they would lose. The reality is that Osborne's economic policies have failed miserably, and now, in a desperate attempt to bolster the Treasury, public sector employees are being treated as scapegoats. The vicious propaganda campaign has been relentless, helping to turn a large proportion of mass opinion in favour of unfair and unjustifiable reforms.
ALL IN THIS TOGETHER:
Since May 2010, Cameron and co. have repeatedly peddled the lie that we are "all in this together". This narrative is meant to merge the nation and build a sense of unity amongst citizens. If only the lie were true. As the OECD's recent report demonstrates, inequality has risen faster in the UK than in any other major economy. These findings are based upon income averages. It has been found that the top 10% of earners bring home 12 times more than the bottom 10% (up from a ratio of eight to one in 1985). Also of importance is the fact that the average income gap within major world economies is nine to one. Shockingly, the share of income taken by the top 1% of UK earners has doubled since the 1970s; increasing from 7% to 14%.
Whilst it is undeniable that the Tories still enjoy a disturbing level of support, Labour need to ram these messages down the throats of anyone willing to listen. With mass media on the side of Cameron, Miliband needs to rally his comrades and equip them with the knowledge and confidence required for this bitter conflict. It is going to be a long, hard slog, but come 2015 the nation needs to be aware of the alternative. Austerity is not the only answer in these tough economic times. Propaganda has infested the discourse and diverted pressure onto Labour, but, as former Guardian editor C.P Scott once remarked: "Comment is free, but facts are sacred". Labour and the public must know the facts if we are to counter this horrible Tory dominance.